The UFC has a problem on it's hands. Division stagnation.
Everyone knows that this problem has occurred in the middleweight division with a dearth of challengers to fight Anderson Silva. The UFC was much ridiculed for putting an overmatched Patrick Cote in a title fight with Anderson Silva. They're facing the same problem with the upcoming Thales Leites fight.
Due to poor matchmaking in recent events, after Thiago Alves, the welterweight division will be facing a similar lack of challengers for GSP's welterweight title (I'm assuming that GSP beats Alves. No easy feat but after tonight's performance...).
The BE meta-rankings for WW are:
1. Georges St. Pierre
2. Thiago Alves
3. Jon Fitch
4. Josh Koscheck
5. Jake Shields
6. Diego Sanchez
7. Matt Hughes
8. Carlos Condit
9. Matt Serra
10. Karo Parisyan
11. Mike Swick
12. Nick Thompson
13. Marcus Davis
14. Dustin Hazelett
15. Brock Larson
16. Jay Hieron
17. Chris Wilson
18. Dan Hardy
19. Chris Lytle
20. Nick Diaz
21. Hayato Sakurai
22. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
23. Brad Blackburn
24. Anthony Johnson
25. Akihiro Gono
#3 Jon Fitch and #4 Josh Koscheck have already been beaten by GSP. A title shot for either of them wouldn’t be terrible but it also wouldn’t really excite the fans.
#5Jake Shields, #6Diego Sanchez #7Matt Hughes and #9 Matt Serra will also never challenge for the UFC WW title again (unless Jake Shields somehow sorts himself out of the EXC quagmire).
#10 Karo Parisyan is seems to be highly overrated following his fight today against unranked Dong Hyun Kim and doesn’t deserve his top ten ranking.
Therefore the only potential challengers to the crown at this point are #8 Carlos Condit and #22 Mike Swick. There’s also potential for unranked Martin Kampmann if he beats Carlos Condit. The only other person I feel is worth mentioning is #14 Dustin Hazelett who has shown great potential in his past few fights. Others might also mention that unranked Ben Saunders has looked impressive in his past few fights.
There are a few big problems:
1. This is the main problem. Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck are too good. Basically both these guys have no chance of beating GSP but they would beat everyone else ranked below them.
2. The AKA fighters probably won’t fight each other. AKA possesses three world class welterweights and they can all beat most of the welterweights out there. And none of them can beat GSP.
3. Matt Serra and Matt Hughes are now largely irrelevant. After they fight each other they should both retire. With Matt Serra – I don’t see him beating any of the consensus top ten but Hughes is probably still good enough to beat second-tier fighters like Hazelett and Yoshida etc.
Therefore the matchmaking needs to go something like this:
1. Carlos Condit v Martin Kampman (already signed) – If Condit wins he should probably get an immediate title shot. It’s a sellable fight since Condit is the WEC Champion. The loser should fight Jon Fitch or Josh Koscheck. If Kampman wins he should fight the loser of Mike Swick – Karo Parisyan.
2. Mike Swick v Karo Parisyan – A fight I see Swick winning rather easily. I think ‘Quick’ is underrated at #11 and would beat Parisyan and Serra relatively easily. If Swick wins he should get a title shot because he would have won 4 in a row and the most recent against a top 10 guy.
3. Dustin Hazelett v Marcus Davis – Marcus Davis is a name fighter and also one I think that Hazelett can beat if he gets the fight to the ground. If he can beat Davis then he should move to contender status and fight the winner of Hughes-Serra. I don’t think he’d be able to beat Matt Hughes though.
4. Ben Saunders should not be fighting a UFC newcomer. The Hazelett match up was a good matchmaking. Now that it’s off Saunders should have been put in with another name fighter like Chris Lytle. A win there would put him one big win away from a title shot.
Overall – I think the welterweight division is headed towards stagnation. After GSP defeats Thiago Alves there will be a clear lack of legitimate challengers to the thrown, largely because nobody can break through the steel gates that are Koscheck and Fitch.
And we’ll be rewarded with an end of year Superfight. GSP vs Anderson Silva…
I can’t wait.